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May 02, 2003 - Image 57

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-05-02

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wield with a president, he now had his
declared that he was nationalizing the
answer, and from an unimpeachable
Suez Canal. The French devised a
source: The influence exerted could be
covert plan to attack Egypt, convinc-
decisive. It was exactly the role Fisher
ing the British and Israelis to join
hoped to play.
them. The plan unfolded in October,
and Eisenhower was livid. He had
been tricked by his allies, and he
thought their strategy would invite the A SPECIAL DIPLOMAT
In the 38 years since his meeting at
Soviet Union into the fray and the
Gettysburg, Fisher has served as an
United States would be forced to bail
adviser to the administrations of
everyone out. By November,
Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford,
Eisenhower, using a variety of arm-
Ronald W. Reagan,
twisting tactics, including
George,H. W. Bush, and
the termination of all U.S.
George W. Bush, address-
governmental aid and phil-
ing a range of issues —
anthropic assistance to
certainly too many of
Israel, forced the invaders
them to recount here. Just
from the Canal Zone.
a small sampling of his
A number of contempo-
work as a "quiet diplo-
rary histories of the era
mat" between Washington
recorded that Eisenhower
and Jerusalem would
never regretted his decision.
include helping to pave
Fisher, though, on that
way for Jews to leave the
October afternoon in
repressive circumstances
Gettysburg, would hear a
of the former Soviet
different story. Evidently,
Max M Fisher,
Union and Ethiopia; the
the ensuing decade had
question of arms re-sup-
provided an opportunity
ply during the 1973 Yom
for Eisenhower to reflect.
the Reassessment — a
For as Fisher's conversation with him
difficult period in U.S.-Israeli rela-
drew to a close, the former president
tions; and the resettlement of Soviet
wistfully commented: "You know,
Max, looking back at Suez, I regret
During this time, Fisher was often
what I did. I never should have pres-
referred to as "the dean of American
sured Israel to evacuate the Sinai."
Jewry," a name he had earned,
Fisher was astonished by the state-
according to the
late Dr. Israel
Miller, one of the
plished Jewish
communal leaders
in the United
Miller recalled,
"Max had his
White House pass
and could walk
right in. But his
strength was not
in his being just a
The defense of Israel was the top priority for Max Fisher.
Republican and a
Jew, but being an
active member of the organized
ment. Then, almost as an after-
Jewish community. Bringing the
thought, Eisenhower revealed another
community in with him was part of
startling facet of his reconsideration,
and in doing so, he clarified the course his vision and his greatness. No Other
`Jewish friends' of the administration
of Fisher's political career.
had ever done it before. Each of them
"Max," Eisenhower said, "if I'd had
went into the Oval Office, or to the
a Jewish adviser working for me, I
State Department, as individuals.
doubt I would have handled the situa-
That all changed after 1968. And
tion the same way. I would not have
Max was the person who changed it."
forced the Israelis back."
As hard as Fisher worked building
Eisenhower's statement struck Fisher
between Washington and
with the impact of epiphany. If Fisher
Jerusalem, he also saw a need to
had been unsure of the extent of
power that an unofficial adviser could
FISHER on page 60

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